Barry Posner, author of the book ‘The Leadership Challenge’, states that everyone has leadership potential; people just need help unlocking it by developing relevant behaviours. He found that there are 5 practices of exemplary leadership:
1. Model the way through organisational values and required behaviour
2. Inspire a shared vision and communicate it
3. Challenge the process internally and through opportunities sought externally
4. Enable others to act through building trust, collaboration and facilitated relationships
5. Encourage the heart by recognising and appreciating contributions and creating a spirit of community.
Personality influences a leader’s ability to implement these leadership practices and associated behaviours. Personality translates itself into competencies on four domains: intrapersonal skills, interpersonal skills, business or technical skills and leadership skills.
· Intrapersonal skills are about core self-esteem based on emotional stability and integrity that in turn creates credibility. This skill is the foundation on which a career develops.
· Interpersonal skills are about relationship building as summarised in point 4 of Posner’s leadership practice.
· Technical or business skills are those that are taught to gain professional
competence. The classical supervisory role is situated within this competence.
· Leadership skills relate to recruiting, retaining, motivating and inspiring a team (part of point 5 of Posner’s practice), articulating a vision (point 2), and persistency and courage. Developing effective leadership skills depends on the level of attainment of intrapersonal, interpersonal and technical skills.
Leaders require the personality to develop positive competencies in all four domains. Developing leading behaviours therefore requires personal insight and long term development beyond a classical management degree/course or a two day leadership course. A course provides the knowledge and skills, practice brings experience, but feedback brings mastery. Feedback can be obtained through several forms: through 360 feedback assessments, asking for immediate feedback from peers, coaching or circles of 10.
Yet, obtaining feedback is still a stumbling block for many current or aspiring leaders, regardless of their position. The notion of feedback generates a range of feelings: hesitation in asking someone, anxiety over what others will say, the potential for conflict or perceived loss of status in asking for help. On feedback, Ronald D. Laing, in this publication ‘knots’ (1970, page 56) said very aptly
“There is something I don’t know that I am supposed to know.
I don’t know what it is I don’t know, and yet I am supposed to know,
and I feel I look stupid if I seem both not to know it and not know what it is I
Therefore, I pretend I know it.
This is nerve-racking since I don’t know what I must pretend to know.
Therefore, I pretend I know everything.
I feel you know what I am supposed to know but you can’t tell me
what it is because you don’t know that I don’t know what it is.
You may know what I don’t know, but not that I don’t know it,
and I can’t tell you.
So you will have to tell me everything.”
Find the courage...